For the dedication she has demonstrated in service to her community, Lisa Gallagher, from Belmullet has been recognised as one of 20 finalists in the 2017 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, the only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind which rewards post-primary students for outstanding acts of volunteerism and the positive contribution they make in their local communities and further afield.
Lisa,a fifth year student at St Brendan’s College, is involved with Erris Children of Chernobyl (ECC ) and volunteers with the Burren Chernobyl Project. Motivated by her mum who founded ECC in 2003 sending aid to Belarus and bringing children to Ireland, Lisa was inspired by the children she met and wanted to travel to an orphanage herself.
Following months of fundraising driving which she raised €12,000 in May 2016 Lisa and a group of school friends travelled to Gorodishche Orphanage in Belarus to help the nurses there and give one-to- one attention to the children. The trip made Lisa realise that it was the small things in life that make a real difference and she hopes to visit the orphanage again in the future.
Commenting on Lisa’s volunteer work her teacher Stephanie O’Sullivan said, “Lisa is without doubt one of the most inspirational and passionate people I have ever had the pleasure to teach over the years. My proudest moment was seeing Lisa deliver her heart-warming account of her visit to Belarus. This young girl who had worked so hard to secure her vision has changed the lives of so many people.”
Lisa will be among 20 finalists who hail from all corners of Ireland, who will be presented with €500 and an engraved silver medallion at the gala awards ceremony on March 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin, with special guest speaker Irish international rugby player Jordi Murphy. At the gala, two of the 20 students will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year, receiving €1,000, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their school and an all-expenses paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
The programme is run in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD ) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI ). The programme is also supported by Volunteer Now, Volunteer Ireland, Scouting Ireland, and Foróige.